FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida sheriff's department has agreed to pay $2.5 million to the mother of a man who was fatally shot by a deputy in 2013 while carrying an air rifle that looked like a more powerful weapon, court records show.
The Broward Sheriff's Office deputy, Peter Peraza, was charged with manslaughter in the killing of 33-year-old Jermaine McBean, who was Black. Peraza is Hispanic.
A Broward judge, however, agreed that even as a law enforcement officer, Peraza could claim he felt threatened under Florida's “stand your ground” self-defense law, which gives immunity from prosecution to people who use deadly force to protect themselves or others if they feel at risk of great bodily harm or death. That ruling was eventually upheld by the Florida Supreme Court over opposition from the sheriff's office.
Witnesses said McBean drew attention by openly carrying the air rifle he had just purchased at a pawn shop along a busy street. Deputies were called and confronted McBean outside his Oakland Park apartment complex, which included a pool filled with children.
Peraza said that as deputies shouted for McBean to drop the air rifle, McBean whirled around as if preparing to fire at them. Peraza then shot and killed McBean.
McBean's mother, Jennifer Young, said earlier that her son was “not a criminal” and did not deserve to die the way he did.
“Someone has to pay,” Young told the Fort Lauderdale SunSentinel. "It's about the lying and trying to make my son out to be a horrible person. That is what I am upset about.”
Peraza's attorney, Eric Schwartzreich, said the case “was and still is a tragedy.”
“Deputy Peraza's legacy will be that police officers will have the same protections under the ‘stand your ground’ law as all other defendants in the justice system," he said.
The Associated Press